Red Post Collection: The Heist Begins, Dark Horses: Support Brand, Cassiopeia Discussion, and more!

Posted on at 3:30 PM by Moobeat
Tonight's red post collection features a reminder that this weekend kicks off "The Heist", which includes a double IP weekend, the return of mystery gifting, and 50% several skins that will soon be retiring to the legacy vault. You'll also find an article showcasing support Brand, discussion on Cassiopeia's upcoming 4.21 changes and her passive, a heads up that Kalista's price has been reduced to 6300 IP, and more!
Continue reading for more information!

Table of Contents

The Heist Begins with a Double IP Weekend

In addition to the releases of our four new cops & robbers themed skins, this weekend includes the previously announced IP weekend, return of mystery skins, and discounts on  over 30 skins that will soon be retiring to the legacy vault!
"Our boys in blue have thus far failed to track the sneaky swindlers, giving us no choice but to bow to their demands! The Heist starts up on November 28 and kicks off with a double IP weekend, four days of sales and purchasable mystery skins alongside the epic S.U.M.O. bundle. We checked in with Captain Volibear and Constable Trundle, who’ve both promised to have these thieves thrown in the slammer just as soon as they finish their donuts. And find them. That’s important, too. 
Lock down your favorite deals before the criminals get locked up, and check here for more details on the thieves’ demands!"

Here's the NA version of the "Skins still in vault hours before being stolen", which highlights the upcoming skins that will be on sale before moving into the legacy vault.

As the times vary by server, be sure to check out your specific region's post:

"A pair of ne’erdowells are putting the squeeze on League of Legends. In the dead of night, they broke into the store and stole Hippalus’ most prized possessions (he really loves his socks). The two best detectives in the history of detecting are on the case but, to prevent further chaos, we’re giving in to their demands. These are dark days in League… kind of. 
Here are their demands -

Double IP Weekend
From 00:01 PST November 28 through 23:59 PST November 30

Self Mystery Gifting
From 00:01 PST November 28 through 2359 PST December 1

Four days of 50% off sales

00:01 PST November 28 through 23:59 PST November 28

00:01 PST November 29 through 23:59 PST November 29

00:01 PST November 30 through 23:59 PST November 30

00:01 PST December 1 through 23:59 PST December 1

Super Ultra Mega Oversized (S.U.M.O) Bundle
All skins listed above for 60% off (champions are 50% off) in a Cho’Gath sized bundle

  • 8,896 RP (20,269 RP if you need the champions) 
We’re not sure why they chose these specific skins but, to keep them safe, we’re making all of them Legacy on December 2. They’ll go into the Skin Protection Program and reside in the Vault until it’s safe to come out, but in the meantime, keep an eye out for those dastardly villains."

Dark Horses: Support Brand

Riot NAKyle has also posted up a sizzling article on Support Brand, the first in a new series looking at underplayed and underestimated picks!
"Welcome to Dark Horses, where we dive deep, looking for your sleeper picks and why they might be ready to wake up. This go round, we’re lighting a fire under Support Brand. 


Ignite duo lanes with Brand’s signature mix of damage, crowd control and damage. Sustain? That’s for wimps. Feed your marksman a ham sandwich and these five facts when they whine about Brand heading to a duo lane. 
Dat Base Damage 
Supports need either high base damages or built-in utility to reliably succeed. Support Brand’s got the former in spades. Playing his level 6 combo to perfection nearly doubles the base damage potential of other “bursty” supports like Annie or Karma. Kill secured. 
Easy Spellthief’s, easy life
You know what’s hot? Brand. You know what takes heat? Coin-making. Support Brand stacks serious change. Blaze, his passive, applies a mark that deals damage-over-time each time you land a spell. Each tick of his passive procs Spellthief’s Edge. That means if the Edge is fully charged, you earn 15 gold for landing just one spell. 
Brand’s coveted stun requires you to land two spells in a row, but we know you can do it: You’re the chosen one. Just land Sear, Brand’s long-range skillshot after knocking your opponent around with any other spell, and you’ve landed a stun that lasts longer than a Sona ult. 
Pyroclasm makes more sense in a duo lane 
In a duo lane, Pyroclasm hits two champions, not one. 2 > 1 

Waveclear as Support 
You ever try to clear a wave with Nami? Brand’s combination of high base damage and AoE spells mean he clears waves and nudges lanes in the right direction when his teammates are too busy doing whatever carries do.

Brand management 

Naturally, some of Brand’s weaknesses follow him to botlane. He’s still immobile, making him eminently dousable for aggressive, tanky supports like Leona. Similarly, shielding supports like Lulu act as effective flame retardants, blunting the impact of Brand’s potent damage. 
Brand is predictable 
Brand’s spells need to combo to stun you forever. Meaning that when he casts one spell, it’s easy to sort out what’s coming next. Did you just dodge a Sear? His stun is down. Did you just dodge Pillar of Flame? A huge portion of his damage potential is gone. Now, punish him. 
Limited mobility 
Brand doesn’t go anywhere fast, leaving him vulnerable to crowd control. Incidentally, Pillar of Flame can push lanes when Brand’s trying to poke. If he’s pushing the lane, he’s making himself an even juicier target for your jungler. 
Brand’s spells come all at once 
Like we mentioned earlier, Brand’s all about the combo. This translates to long stretches of vulnerability during Brand’s spell-slinging hangover. If you’re still standing, now’s the time to counter-attack. 
Whether you take him to a solo or duo lane, you can do it on the cheap through December 1. Brand is440 RP (50% off 880 RP), and Cryocore Brand is 487 RP (50% off 975 RP). In short, yes, we do have your Brand."

[Continued] Cassiopeia Discussion

In another thread discussing the Riot Stashu's Cassiopeia power curve and the changes that are currently testing on the PBE and her power curv, Riot Scruffy stepped in to comment:
"The passive encourages her to trade and interact with her opponent in lane, this doesn't necessarily make her a lane bully. From the work that Stashu is doing for her in the upcoming patch, we hope to make her power curve less steep than it currently is. The changes he is working on felt really good to play as a Cass player for multiple reasons: 
-Buffs, because honestly she is weak on live currently 
-Poison focus, the payoff for a successful trade or all in pushes the power back into her poison damage, matching and enhancing the thematic feel of the kit 
-More elegant passive play - by simplifying the way she stacks her passive it actually makes the choices more interesting and clear with less complexity. Do I try for Q poke on my enemy laner, do I use Q for waveclear and farm, do I E enemy for good trade damage, do I E to last hit for my mana restore, etc. The decision making felt really rich to me when I playtested it. 
The current plan is to get these changes to live next patch, but it's never a finished product. If more work is to be done after that, so be it. We're in it for the long haul."
He continued, replying to feedback regarding the low range on her E:
"The multiple ranges of power that Q -> E give to her kit give her in my opinion a good risk/reward curve. This same principle applies to a ton of champions (ziggs, Ahri, Velkoz, Jinx, varus, thresh, morgana, etc) 
-Long range Q gives her poke, wave clear, and a safe fallback option when she doesn't want to fully commit to a dangerous range. 
-High payoff but shorter range E gives her increased power when she wants to all in
I think that a lot of her success really does come down to numbers. Theoretically she could be tuned up to near unstoppable levels of power with a variety of changes (movespeed on Q, Damage on any spell, etc). Give the upcoming patch changes a try and see if they help her as much as we think they will."

When asked about her current wave clearing ability, Scruffy noted:
"Yea, it may be the case that wave clear is still something that we need to look into after the next patch. There's no question in my mind that these upcoming changes will be buffs, so let's see how it turns out and Stashu will make more adjustments if they are needed. 
Thanks for giving us reasonable and productive feedback that we can use. I'll forward the mana itemization ideas along to the Systems designers that work on that stuff."
Riot Stashu also joined in on the discussion, commenting:
"Quite simply, you're right. I've spoke quite a bit to this, bottom line being her curve is wayyyy too steep. 
4.21 changes do a number of things to address this.
  • Her passive stacks more quickly and reliably
  • Her Q ms and E ap start higher than before and no longer scale with rank
  • The Twin Fang debuff straight up adds a lot of power to her at all stages of the game
This should go a long ways towards solving the problem you're addressing here. I also think it should ease a lot of the other concerns surrounding the changes, but we'll definitely see.
So please give them a chance and let me know what you think!"

Stashu also commented on Cassiopeia's wave clear, explaining:
"Here are my thought's on Cassiopeia's waveclear: 
There's a certain baseline of minion wave control that is necessary for a champion to function in League of Legends, especially if they fall behind a little. The original Cassiopeia changes really hurt her waveclear, particularly for her W, but also in her Q ratio for early game. However, they were supposed to enable a different farming pattern, which involved poisoning the minions and last hitting them all with E for the mana return. This is not as effective as Q/Wing the wave as Zerath, Ziggs, or old Cassiopeia, but it was intended as a viable means of controlling the minion wave nonetheless. 
Of course, it's possible that it simply wasn't functional enough, or maybe it was minimally functional but her other strengths weren't expressing themselves sufficiently to account for her weaker waveclear. 
So, with the upcoming changes, maxing Q first should be much more viable than previously (and thus should be a more accessible waveclear tool), and E will have 0.55 ap ratio at rank 1, so even that should be a better last hitting tool at early ranks. Further, she'll have a flatly more powerful lane presence with the other surrounding changes, which should leave her weaker wave clear as less of a crippling weakness.

When asked about the various bonuses tied to the breakpoints of her passive, Stashu elaborated on his decisions, how she stacks up vs other similar mechanics, and more:
"Yeah definitely. I've experimented with a number of more 'interesting' mechanics as rewards for the breakpoints. Ultimately, they all, much like the current stat-y one, created a feeling in the player of "but why do I have to wait?" Basically, when you get a tool that alters the way you approach your core combat pattern, the kit feels incomplete without it. The healing on E is kind of cool and adds some decisions, but none that really change the way you approach combat, except that now you are kind of just stronger.

As a comparison point, consider Syndra. Her ability augments don't really change the way the abilities function. They just sort of add some power (increased damage, increased slow duration, etc.). The one that really stands out to me is the increased cast range on the ultimate. Cast ranges are pretty sacred as far as I've learned. Opponents learn approximately what your threat range is and then play around it, so when that changes things get really whacky. I think it's okay for Syndra since nobody really learns to play around the range of the ultimate, as it only happens once per fight and often within the range of her other abiltites. But when you do this for Noxious Blast or Twin Fang or other abilities that are nearly always up and core parts of a Champion's threat, things start to break down. There are champions who are all-about increasing threat range, like Kog'Maw and Tristana, but that aspect is core to the champion identity, so players learn to play around it.

As a point of contrast, consider Kha'Zix. His W, E, and R change pretty dramatically when they're evolved. It's pretty important here to nail down the differences between Kha'Zix and Cassiopeia. What is it about Kha'Zix's abilities, which dramatically change his threat ranges and counterplay, that doesn't leave the Kha'Zix player feeling like she's missing something when she doesn't have them? Is it something about the evolution system, or the individual abilities themselves? I think it's pretty clear that it's the evolution system, but what about it? I think a lot of it has to do with it being a core part of the champion's identity, that both kha'zix players and opponents know going into a game that that's his thing. But it doesn't end there. I think the choice there and the reliability is really important. Kha'Zix (and Victor also) can choose to get their preferred upgrade about as early as they can want it. The augmentation of abilities is much more in the hand of the players in these cases (and even to Syndra) and so it doesn't feel like the game is witholding a core ability for them, but rather they get to upgrade their champion how/when they want to. That's the prevailing theory anyway.

So, the question is, what sorts of things make sense to come over game time in ways which you can't control super well? One answer is 'just make it an evolution system like Kha'Zix/Victor,' but I think that design space is starting to get a bit crowded and it's really important that we preserve what makes those champions feel unique. Stats sort of work, but they create a similar feeling of the game playing keep-away with your power. Somehow the Twin Fang augment works, as it's power in a way which adds some softer decisions and doen't really change Cassiopeia's combat pattern. So, if we're going to swap out the stats for more interesting things that feel exciting to get rather than necessary, it would have to fit along these lines.

Sorry for the rant, hope that helps!"

In a separate thread discussing her passive and describing it as a timed "compensation" for having her abilities nerfed in the rework, Stashu commented:
"Hey! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The sole purpose of the passive is not to compensate what was taken away, but I can definitely see how it appears to be that way. A big part of itwas to curb the oppressive lane bully pattern, but the other parts were to offer her a unique way of growing in power that was meant to be exciting and rewarding. As you say, however, it's landed in a place that's a bit dull. Were working on making sure we've get some poison feel back and get her into a balanced state, largely by flattening out her ridiculously steep power curve a bit. This'll likely hit in 4.21, and it's likely that the passive will still feel a bit flat even on a balanced champion, so we'll be evaluating that as we go and be ready to make changes to make feel less like a shackle and more like a cool way of growing power."

He continued in another thread, answering a few questions surrounding her passive:
"Sure, I'll take some time to answer these.
I like the idea, but it's not working whatsoever, wouldn't you say this would be better on a new champion?
Sometimes we put mechanics on a kit to achieve some sort of gameplay related goal, like fitting into a pattern, encouraging a playstyle, or solving some other problem, and sometime we do it because they're just super cool. The Aspect of the Serpent mechanic, a slow-build stacking passive which gives rewards at certain points, was thought to be pretty much all of these for Cassiopeia. It emphasized the identity we were going for, encouraged interaction in lane, and had a promise of being really exciting. It's accomplished a lot of the things it was meant to, but it fell miserably flat on the cool aspect and ended up feeling more like shackles than anything else. The idea of dramatically growing in power over game time through play is a cool one, but our execution was underwhelming. I want to get her into a more balanced state to truly eliminate any power variables before conclusively stating anything concrete about how the passive in its current state could feel (god that was wordy, sorry about that), but yeah it seems like it could use some work. That said, in a fully realized version of the passive, yeah I think it fits on Cassiopeia. If it never gets there, then no, certainly not.
After you started working on a new rework(Which is now complete and being pushed to live) Why insist on keeping the passive?
Some of the above, but, basically, me and many of the other designers saw the promise in the passive but felt that a number of surrounding variables (power levels, weak poisons, clunky stacking mechanisms) were keeping it from actually feeling cool. We hoped to fix these surrounding problems to let the cool parts express themselves. We'll see how that goes. I suspect it's not quite enough yet and that the mechanics could still use some work, but our changes for 4.21 will definitely do some good for Cassiopeia and Cassiopeia players.

How does her new passive better fit in thematically vs her old passive?
I'm not really sure where Deadly Cadence fit in at all thematically :<. Mechanically it made a lot of sense to me (Cassiopeia should be empowered to cast a lot of spells), though there were some realllly weird incentives there (like casting at the ground to keep it up, even while no enemies were around). But Snake Mage has little to do with rhythm (cadence) or reduced mana costs. 
Ultimately, for a fun play experience, gameplay comes before thematics, but when the two tie-in some real magic happens, and that should always be the goal. To me, Aspect of the Serpent has a few more thematic hooks than Deadly Cadence. Through poisoning her foes, Cassiopeia becomes more and more adept at wielding the curse that befell her once normal body. She's driven to poison enemies, and as she does, she unlocks the potential of her new powers. This may not be the perfect marriage of thematics and gameplay, but I think it stands up pretty well.
Why do you refuse to change it after so much dislike has been placed on the new passive not getting the job done?
I feel like I've answered this above :p
If you were to change it, what are you looking at as new possibilities for a passive?
Cassiopeia has a few really cool patterns.
  • Her fishing with Q's pattern, to get that MS boost for E follow-ups
  • Her on-the-fly kiting pattern of Q/E/E/Q/E/E, using W and R as necessary
  • Her turn-and-burn pattern, where she hits an E or two than lands a fat Q and walks away
So, likely something to encourage one or all of these.
Would you consider bringing back Deadly Cadence and working with that?
Ehhhh maybe. I had some gameplay issues with that one but there was some cool stuff there. So maybe if Aspect truly doesn't work out, and some form of Deadly Cadencereallllyaccomplished what I described in the above section, then maybe, though I find it unlikely.
Thanks in advance for your time, I know that people are being.. hasty on the new rework without most of them actually knowing whether or not it works, but I would just like to know what your thoughts are.
No problem! I'm definitely not going to be able to answer all of these types of posts, but I'll take time to explain my thinking here and there. Hope this helps!"

Stashu's Thoughts on Galio

Stashu also popped in to a thread about Galio to share his thoughts on why the champion isn't very popular:
"While his abilities are all strong individually, they don't really have a flow that feels particularly rewarding. What I mean is, you can W yourself for AP before casting your abilities, and that feels kind of clever, but it doesn't feel particularly good because it's not very exciting. Likewise, you can slow a target with Q so that you're more likely to hit E, or use E to approach a target to hit your ulti, and all of this is smart play, but doesn't feel quite like the combos that other champions have access to. 
Renekton E'ing through a minion to W/Q enemy champion, then E'ing back to safety is both smart play and feels super rewarding, like you've done it right. Ulting on Vayne and then using a stealthed tumble to get in position to condemn someone into a wall is clever and feels amazing. Galio can cast W to get that slight AP boost from his passive, Q to slow the enemy so as to get a guaranteed E, which will allow him to run up and R, but this will never feel as good as that Vayne play or even the simple Renekton trading pattern. 
That's my theory anyway. Oh, also Galio's basic attacks are super lame, which is actually a pretty big deal for a melee champion."
He continued:
"Well, to truly make Galio interesting, I think we'd need to take a good long look at his whole kit, which would require a ton of support from other disciplines as well (art, animation, etc). 
That said, there might be some small things we can add to make him feel good about. Even adding something to his Q that says "marks target. Galio's basic attack deals bonus damage to target = x% of his ap or mr or w.e, consumes mark." This mechanic is pretty overused so I'd be hesitant to do that specifically, but anything that could give him an optimization case while improving the feel of his basic attack would likely go a long way. 
Anyway, I'm looking into a few champions at the moment, so no promises, but I'll keep him in mind and in discussions, maybe me or another designer could find some room for him some time."

Kalista Price Drop

Since it's been a week since her releaseKalista's IP price has been reduced to 6300 IP from 7800 IP!

For a better look at Kalista's abilities, release skin, background, and more, check out this post!

As a bonus, here's Carnival Knights with an interesting factoid on Kalista's name:
"I got to help out a bit on Kalista and this is really cool to see. 
Fun fact: her name was almost Kallista (two l's), but that translates to foot-wart-doctor in Italian and Spanish. The more you know!"

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